SOS - Secrets of Opening Surprises

| 7 | Opening Theory

No time to study opening theory? Shock your opponent with an SOS!
With an SOS you deviate early (usually before move 6!) from regular lines in mainstream openings. So you will reach positions you have actually studied without having memorized tons of stuffy theory, while gaining time on the clock! And you will have fun watching the horror on your opponent's face... 

Every month, the editor of the SOS Secrets of Opening Surprises book series, IM Jeroen Bosch, annotates a game which was recently played with an SOS-variation.

SOS Game of the Month: September 2011

A Dutch summer (that means rain!) full of chess tournaments ended in Haarlem with the BDO tournaments. The premier tournament (a closed GM tournament) ended in a joint victory for Maxim Turov and Robin van Kampen, but runner-up Ruud Janssen must have been equally pleased as he secured the GM title.
The Challenger (a closed IM tournament) was won by David Klein, who scored a very convincing IM-norm.

Let us have a look at Klein's victory in the 7th round. Klein must have read Alexander Finkel's article in SOS Volume 13 carefully, while his opponent left SOS-theory on move 16 only to resign 7 moves later (in a position where he should have played on!).


Here's the complete text of this game annotation:

French Winawer (C15)
David Klein
Peter Poobalasingam
Haarlem BDO 2011 (7)

1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.Nge2

This has the great practical advantage of not allowing Winawer players into their typical play after 4.e5 c5 5.a3 Bxc3+ 6.bxc3.
White's intention is to obtain the two bishops without allowing his structure to be fractured. Black should try and make use of the loss of time.

4...dxe4 5.a3



5...Be7 6.g4 was a companion article of Finkel. See SOS–12, Chapter 4, p.34.

6.Nxc3 Nc6

Clearly better than the alternatives 6...f5 and 6...e5.

7.Bb5 Nge7 8.Bg5


The only way to fight for an opening advantage according to Finkel. Black is forced to weaken his position with:

8...f6 9.Be3 f5?!

Finkel devotes the bulk of his article to the stronger 9...0–0, but he also covers the inferior text.


Since Black has given up his dark-squared bishop it is useful to provoke as many weak dark squares as possible.

10...g6 11.Qh6 Kf7 12.0–0–0

White has obvious compensation for the pawn - he rules on the dark squares.



12...Ng8 13.Qf4 is also analysed by Finkel.

13.Nxd5 exd5

13...Qxd5 14.c4 Qd6 15.Bf4 with a slight advantage for White.


14.Bxc6 bxc6 15.Bf4 is also interesting. Note that the bishops of opposite colours increase White's attacking chances.



14...Bd7 15.Bxc6 Bxc6 16.Be5 Qf8 17.Qh3 is indicated as clearly favourable for White by Finkel.


15.Qh3 from Pilnik-Czerniak, Buenos Aires 1941, makes a lot of sense too.
Frankly, it is hard to understand why Poobalasingam decided to enter such an unattractive line.

15...Qe7 16.Qg3 Bd7

You could call this a novelty, but it does not change the evaluation: Black faces an unpleasant struggle for a draw.
16...Be6 17.h4 (17.Bxc6!?) 17...h5 18.Bxc7 Rhc8 19.Bd6 Qd8 20.Kb1 favoured White in Nataf-Apicella, Marseille 2001. You can find the remainder of the game as analysed by Finkel in SOS–13.



Retrieving the pawn, whilst preserving a dark-squared edge.
Other moves are good too: 17.h4 prevents 17...Nxd4?, for after 18.Rxd4 Bxb5 19.Rxd5 White is already winning. For example: 19...Bc6 20.Re5 Qf8 21.Qb3+ Kg7 22.h5.
17.Kb1 is useful in view of the ...Nxd4 trick.
17.Bxc6 is probably a lesser option but still good enough for a plus.


After 17...Rac8 18.Kb1 White is slightly better.


Of course not 18.Bxd7?? Ne2+.

18...Bxb5 19.Rxd5 Rhc8

19...Rac8 should be met by 20.Bd6 (20.Ba5!?; 20.Qb3 Qe6 21.Qxb5 Rxc7 22.Rhd1 with a slight plus) 20...Qd7 21.Kb1, for now 21.Re5 meets with the equalizer 21...Rhe8.

20.Bd6 Qd7



This cheeky move wins the game in a few moves. Again 21.Kb1 is enough for an edge.


21...Bd3 22.Re7+ Qxe7 23.Bxe7 Rxc2+ 24.Kb1 Kxe7 25.Qe5+ Kf7 26.Ka1 and when you are a computer you will be able to draw this fairly easy I suppose. But for humans Black's position is still rather unpleasant. You constantly have to watch for double attacks, while White has a draw by perpetual in hand.White wins after 21...Kg8? 22.Re7 Qc6 23.c3 Re8 24.Rc7 Qb6 25.Qh4.
21...Qxd6?? 22.Rxf5+ Ke7 23.Rf7++-.

22.Qb3+! Kf6 23.Qxb5!?

Objectively White had to play 23.Rd1! Bc6 24.Qg3, with a very strong attack. White's bishop is superior to Black's and he therefore attacks with an extra piece.

Now Black resigned, undoubtedly overlooking that he does not lose a piece, because of 23...Qxd6 24.Rxe8 a6!, when White is better but nevertheless will have to work quite hard for a full point!

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